Friday, February 18, 2011

Lund Sweater Lust

A quick search on Ravelry shows that I am not the only one suffering from Lund Sweater Lust, I think anyone who is lucky enough to be watching The Killing will be experiencing  a strong urge for soft Nordic knits. For those who aren't watching, it's a great slow-burn and complex crime drama from Denmark which makes Wallander look like a sunny day at the beach. Yesterday I found myself saying 'I am so glad The Killing is going to last another six weeks' which just sounds wrong. The double bill on the BBC has become a weekly treat in our house, and  I am convinced the slightly creepy Vagn is the killer, but I have no idea what the politician has to do with anything. What is mainly getting in the way of  minor plot details for me is Sarah Lund's rather magnificent sweater:

When I should be concentrating on political deals, how the killer got the car keys, and exactly how dodgy the teacher is, I find myself drifting off into thoughts of yarn thickness, tension and  yokes. The sweater is available to buy from Gudrun & Gudrun, for an eye-watering CAD$376, so clearly the only way forward is to knit the thing. It doesn't look that tricky to do, I'm guessing a soft bulky yarn with  needles a size larger than recommended. I found this pattern by Drops which I think could be used as a base pattern, increasing the Nordic design repeat, excluding the dots and border and changing the neckline.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Is'nt unpicking just the most dispiriting thing? Yesterday I finally got around to making my bustle skirt, but apparently I made it for someone who is a) much taller and b) much wider than me.
Sigh. Out comes the stitch ripper.

Took me ages to get that zip right, too. 

 This lack of ability does not fill me with confidence for my next project. The pattern assures me its for novices but it does look a bit scary to me, who has difficulty putting in a zip correctly. I'm sure all this would be easier if I had a sewing room....

On the upside, the rugby starts tonight and there will be beers and cheese straws to enjoy while we watch Wales thrash England.  Which they will, obviously. Hopefully.

Mmmmm, cheese straws

Oh, and I'm not Patience Kershaw. Always something to be thankful for. Great song, though.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Spring has Sprung...kind of

Right now I am in the depths of a prairie winter. Three months down, three more to go. Its very cold, mostly dark and when it is daylight, mostly white.
Which is why I am so excited by these:

 Back in September I cunningly thought ahead and decided to force a few of the bulbs I bought to plant out in the front yard. I love Daffodils, they remind me of home (Wales) and springtime walks in the hills. I noticed last year they don't seem to be as common out here in Canada so I decided it was up to me to grow some. After a few months cold treatment in the garage and basement I think these have bloomed beautifully, and they have cheered me up immensely.
Especially when outside looks like this:

Stupid winter.
 I think this afternoon I will take the dogs for a nice long walk in these green hills, followed by a pint by the fire in an old pub and a good dinner. Oh no, wait....I forgot what continent I lived on for a second. Sigh.

Wild daffodils in  North Yorkshire

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sewing Room Blues

When The Husband and I moved into this house last summer, I planned to turn the smallest bedroom into a sewing, knitting and reading space. A little sanctuary, where I could knit along to audio books in a comfy chair, put up my Egon Schiele print (which TH can't stand) and so I would be able to lay the dinner table without moving a sewing machine first.

This is the kind of thing I had in mind -

Amber's super-organized craft room, via Apartment Therapy

The Tofu Studio sewing room as seen on Apartment Therapy

Colourful, organized and practical. Rooms where you would want to spend time.

This is what I have:

I have no idea what this room is for.
 Right now it  is home to TH's orchid collection, the laundry basket and possibly the ugliest chair in the world:

Aaaaaarrrggghhh! Why would you do that?!

Clearly, urgent action is called for. Ideally I would
  • Paint the walls. Green gloss is no-one's idea of a good time. I'm thinking bright white or pale turquoise.
  • Install a white cube bookcase along one wall - good for storage and display of fabric, books and yarn.
  • Set up a sturdy craft table
  • Install a shelf under the window for the orchids.
  • Hang a mood board and pictures.
  • Cover the damn chair. 
  • Post pictures and be smug.
None of that is unachievable, except I am working with a budget of a little less than $0. I even found myself looking in the basement just to see if a spare bookcase or table had materialized. They hadn't. 
Maybe if I close my eyes really, really tight and wish really, really hard the DIY Fairy will come and make it all better.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Labrador 1; Wardrobe 0

The Labrador loves fabric. Loves it. Loves to bite it, chew it, shake it, tear it. Like I said, she loves it. Understandably this makes me nervous. She has yet to get into my stash but has does manage daily recce trips into our bedroom for whatever she can get her little paws on.Yesterday she hit the jackpot.
A brand new, sleeveless cotton short with silk-lined ruffles. Man, she enjoyed that. Quickly followed by my sleep t-shirt and most audaciously, an attempt on a pair of jeans. I caught her dragging them down the hall way behind her with a definite air of joie de vivre.

I guess I could just start putting my clothes away....

The Face of Destruction

And oh my goodness have you noticed how it is almost the end of the month and I have yet to make my skirt? I am ashamed. I shall start forthwith. Honest. Once I've just finished my cup of tea, and my novel, and baked some cookies, hung out with friends....any day now I promise.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Selfish Knitting and Hob Nobs

First off, apologies that there has not been much going on around here lately. My motivation seems to be lowering along with the temperature, as it gets colder and whiter outside (down to -41 this week) my only desire seems to be to retreat to bed with a good book and some Hob Nobs (see below). However, I have manged to pull myself upright and some knitting in front of the tele so all is not lost. And only 4 months to go til spring.

I like to knit. I like to give gifts. Ergo, the vast majority of my knitting is gifted. I think I can count on one hand the things I have made for myself. As as addendum to my Knitting Resolutions, I am only knitting things for myself for a while. Its so much less stressful - no deadlines, no pressure to make it perfect. Right now I am working on this slouchy beanie for which I am finally using up some stashed  Vanna's Choice. I've not got on well with this yarn in the past, its acrylic, scratchy and splitty. But weirdly it seems to be behaving itself this time around and trying into a really snug and cute hat. I hope.

I have also, rather fabulously, discovered how to make Hob Nobs! Yay! The recipe calls them Abbey Biscuits but I know, I know. They're Hob Nobs. Delicious, crunchy, oaty Hob Nobs.And with all the brown flour and oats they are practically a health food.

Hob Nobs (makes 24)

150g butter
150g light brown sugar
150g plain brown flour
1 tbs milk
1tsp bicarb
1 tsp golden syrup

  1. Heat the oven to 150 Celsius / 300 Fahrenheit.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy.
  3. Add milk, soda and syrup.
  4. Stir in the flour and oats and mix well.
  5. Roll into small balls and space evenly on lightly greased baking sheets. Flatten slightly with a fork. 
  6. Bake for 20 - 25 min until golden.
  7. Cool on wire racks, and enjoy with a nice cup of tea and a sit down. Possibly while watching Marple. Fight feelings that you are in fact, 65 years old.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Knitting Resolutions

 My knitting has reached a bit of an impasse. This has been a few reasons but mainly I have'nt seen anything I want to make lately and sewing is just so much more instant gratification...harder to do while watching TV, though. So, in addition to my sewing resolution, I think I need a few for my bamboo needles.
  1. I will knit my ravelry queue, in order and with the right yarn
  2. I will no longer subject myself to the frustration that is buying yarn at Michaels.
  3. I will accept that to make truly nice garments I should probably spend more than $6 a skein.
 I made a good start with these over the weekend when I made my first purchase from Knit Picks to make the first item in my queue, the Carnaby Skirt. Living in The Frozen North as I do, skirts don't figure much in my wardrobe for 6 months of the year. But the reviews if this pattern all assure me that this skirt is toasty warm, especially when knit up with Wool of the Andes. Here's hoping.

The Carnaby Skirt (Photo by

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Haberdashery of Dreams or: Why I Hate Fabricland

Some of my earliest memories are of buying fabric with my mum. She shopped at the local draper, a tiny little shop in the back streets of our town where there seemed to be cloth of a hundred different colours, patterns and textures up to the ceiling (I was very small). I was fascinated by the button display and the long wooden counter with the brass rule set into it. Buying fabric there was magical.
Buying fabric here is not.

Fabricland: Not Magical
 Doesn't it make you depressed just looking at it? Until I discovered Etsy all my fabric purchases were made here, and they were all dreadful. Dreadful. Not only is the selection poor, the lighting is horrible and the staff grumpy. Well, wouldn't you be? Oh, and did I mention how pricey they are?

Here, on the other hand, is where fabric goes when it has been very, very good indeed.

Liberty of London: Magical

Now, I must be honest and admit that I have never set foot in Liberty's. This is probably a good thing as I imagine I could spend an awful lot of money there. Small niggles like cash flow (and 6,000 miles of distance) aside, who wouldn't want to shop there? The selection is amazing, the patterns exquisite, the displays imaginative and attractive.I have no idea what their staff are like but I imagine them to be kindly and helpful ladies of a certain age who know all there is to know about dashing haber.

I'll take it all!

See how fascinating button displays can be?

I don't know what I would do with a lot of turquoise feathers, but I'm willing to take that risk

 And when you get bored of browsing yards and yards of tana lawn, varuna wool, vogue patterns, bias binding and tapestry can always go and buy a zebra's head.

What every home needs: a zebra to hang your coat on

All this drooling over Liberty reminds me of the fantastic giveaway the lovely Handmade Jane has on offer. Post a comment here and get the chance to win a copy of Sew Serendipity and/or five fat quarters of Liberty quilting cotton.

Aren't they lovely? (and isn't she generous?)